15 July

Russian holidays

Like the whole world, Russian people love celebrating their holidays. Celebrations in Russia reflect many aspects of its history, culture and traditions. Some Russian festivities are official public holidays and government offices, schools and banks have their days off.  These are New Year (January, 1st – 5th), Orthodox Christmas (January, 7th), Defender of the Motherland Day (February, 23rd), International Women’s Day (March, 8th), Spring and Labour Day (May, 1st), Victory Day (May, 9th), Russia Day (June, 12th), National Unity Day (November, 4th) and Constitution Day (December, 12th).

The Russians usually celebrate holidays with plenty of food and presents. The most popular holiday is New Year’s Day. Russian people decorate fir-trees, cook delicious meals, make fireworks. All children wait for Father Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka to get presents from them. On Christmas people visit their relatives and friends and tell fortunes.

Defender of the Motherland Day is also known as Men’s Day because all Russian men and boys, active servicemen and war veterans get warm greetings and special presents from their families, friends and colleagues. International Women’s Day has been celebrated in Russia since 1913 and it is the day for all mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and girlfriends. Spring and Labour Day appeared in Russia on the 1st of May in 1890 after the strike of Chicago workers who demanded an 8-hour working day.

Victory Day is a sacred and dramatic holiday for Russia. The whole country commemorates millions of victims of the Great Patriotic war. Russia Day became a national holiday after the Declaration of Sovereignty was adopted in 1991.  And National Unity Day commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish occupation in 1612 and it is celebrated with parades. Constitution Day is a celebration of the adoption of the Russian Federation Constitution in 1993.

Unofficial Russian holidays are also observed. There are religious and foreign celebrations among them:  Old New Year (January, 14th), St. Valentine’s Day (February, 14th), Orthodox Easter Sunday, Maslenitsa, Cosmonaut’s Day (April, 12th), Halloween (October, 30th) and Mothering  Sunday (in November).  

Some Russians celebrate the New Year according to the Julian calendar that was used in Russia before 1918 and they call this holiday Old New Year. Easter is always celebrated with painted eggs and church services. Maslenitsa is a holiday of meeting the Russian spring with such rituals as eating pancakes and burning a dummy of winter.